Singing & Songwriting on Target with
Jordan Benson of
Hailing from the panhandle of Florida, Gunshine offers a breath of fresh air to the rock scene. A musical love child conceived during the pandemic, Gunshine was birthed by Daytona Beach native and New Years Day ax man Austin Ingerman, who, as a result of the world shutting down, suddenly found himself off the road and eager to carry out his vision of forming a fresh, edgy Rock n' Roll band. The vision was to create songs that had attitude, were melodic/catchy, and most importantly written organically. "I'll hear vocal melodies and guitar riffs in my head, and let things flow very naturally and artistically. We just write what comes out, and never try to sound a certain way or let external factors influence our writing in any way." says Ingerman.
Drummer James Renshaw was the first to join Ingerman and they quickly began working on songs that would comprise Gunshine’s debut album. After an exhaustive search, Jordan Benson, distant cousin to Elvis Presley, became the band’s singer and added a dose of charisma and showmanship that has become a staple of Gunshine’s live shows. Gunshine recorded their debut album in Las Vegas with producer/engineer Chris Collier (Korn, Mick Mars, Whitesnake, Lynchmob, Prong) who is an integral part of the sonic translation of the band. The new EP, due out in 2023, was also mixed/mastered by Chris. It was tracked at "The Hideout" in Vegas, where tons of hit records were made.
Together, this group lays down face-melting guitar solos, catchy riffs, soaring vocals and a lethal rhythm section which all come together to create a sonic boom harkening back to a time when music was raw, blisteringly energetic, and loud. In a world where it is commonplace to play it safe, Gunshine throws the rule book out and plays it straight from the heart, no tricks, no frills, no BS. This is rock-n-roll, the kind you’ve been missing.
By Kreig Marks, July 2023
KM: Hi Jordan. Welcome to Tru Rock Revival Magazine. Let’s get moving. Tell me about Gunshine and how the band came about.
JB: It was a vision that Austin had for a long time, it just took many years to bring all of us together. He had known and been friends with our drummer James for almost 10 years, and they began constructing songs instrumentally while auditioning singers. Just before the pandemic, Austin had just got off of a European tour with the band “New Years Day”. While home during the shutdown, he contacted me to come over and “sing on some demos” he had. That was the beginning.
KM: When the guys had you come in to audition, what songs did you cover?
JB: Well, the audition was mainly with Austin. He had heard me sing already so we didn’t cover any songs. Turns out he was looking for someone to write songs with, we just wrote our own. I had a background in songwriting from my years in Nashville, so it turned out to be a perfect fit. We wrote “Wall Said To Call” on the first day and immediately knew that we had something special. We kept writing week after week until we had our debut album.
KM: How did you feel it went, the audition?
JB: I think it went well, haha. We hit it off and had an instant chemistry in writing great songs together.
KM: You have a pretty unique voice. Who are some of your musical influences?
JB: Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say. Wow, where do I begin?!?! I’m obviously a massive AC/DC fan. I love Journey, STYX, Def Leppard, Winger, anything that has massive energy and soaring vocals. When I was a kid I had a long playlist of songs that I loved dearly. I got older and realized that all of these songs had been written by the same guy, Jeffrey Steele. Jeffrey and his use of imagery in lyrics became such an inspiration to me over the years. So I always aspired to bring songs to the table that were instant Gold!! The man’s a genius!!!
KM: What’s your background? Where did you grow up? Married? Kids?
JB: Well, I’m not married but I do have a lovely lady in my life. No kids. I was born in Lake Wales, Florida. My family moved to upstate South Carolina when I was 18 months old and that’s where I spent my early days. A little town called Pickens. My brother was, and still is, an incredible guitar player, so as a young boy I wanted to play along with him. I had my mother show me a few chords on our home piano and that’s all it took. I began practicing every day and jamming out with my brother. I eventually learned bass, rhythm guitar, harmonica and drums. Being a multi-instrumentalist has proven to be very useful throughout my career.
KM: What do you do away from the band? Is the band your full-time gig now or do you do something else?
JB: Gunshine definitely takes precedence over everything else. However, when I’m not on the road, I perform at a local Piano Bar in Pensacola, FL called Rosie O Grady’s. It’s a great way to keep my chops up and I always enjoy meeting new people. Piano Bars are a good time.
KM: I understand you are a distant cousin to Elvis? Tell me about that.
JB: Elvis’ grandmother’s name was Minnie Mae Hood. She had a brother named Harrison Buck Hood. Harrison Buck Hood is my Great Great Grandfather. So “The King” is my cousin. Very distant, but still pretty cool I guess. My grandmother, Laverne Stinson Hood, used to tell us stories about Elvis’ and his interactions with the family. Us being a very musical bunch, it was interesting to hear.
KM: Let's hear one of the Elvis stories.
JB: Every year around Christmastime, there would be a limousine pulling up to the front of the house, and a nice driver would get out and unload a very large fruit basket, and personally deliver the basket to the front door. Elvis did this for many family members. The man truly hard a heart of gold!!
KM: That's very cool. Now tell me, before joining Gunshine, had you been with other bands?
JB: Yes, my first band was called “Up Creek”. I formed it with my brother in which I played bass guitar. We eventually found a bass player and I switched to rhythm guitar. I alternated between that and keyboards but still the lead singer. In later years I formed Benson Band also with my brother. We supported J. Michael Harter and Mila Mason, as well as putting out our own music while traveling around the southwest. I eventually moved to Nashville to move our act there but no one followed me. After a while, I moved to Pensacola, FL where I played in the piano bar. Which is basically a house band.
KM: Away from the band, is there any other style of music that you enjoy singing or listening to?
JB: I’m a big fan of well -written country songs. My plugger in Nashville used to read the lyrics first before ever even listening to a song. He wanted to see if he could see an image in his head before hearing any music. So imagery became a big part of my writing. In turn, I love songs that paint an image in your mind while you are listening. A lot of country songs definitely do that, so I’m a bit of a fan.
KM: So, the band has been together just a few years now but has already quite a loyal following. Did you guys feel you would become established so quickly?
JB: Honestly, we knew that we had something special. I heard Ozzy say in an interview once that, “If you write a song, it’s for you. If other people like it, that’s a plus.” We love what we do, but the audience has definitely showed a great deal of gratitude as well, and for that we are truly grateful. The overwhelming response from our fans has been a major blessing in all of our lives.
KM: The band has a new album coming out this year. Take me through the writing and recording of the album. Do all of you share in the writing?
JB: Well, the new album is already out. “Checkmate” is getting lots of love. We all contribute in one way or another. I’m definitely more of a lyricist. I play instruments as well but let’s face it, these guys are masters of their craft. I may bring in a musical idea but they definitely take it to a whole other level as far as instrumentation goes. It’s definitely a team effort. As far as recording goes, we have an excellent producer out of Las Vegas named Chis Collier. We have everything written and arranged and he has the engineering expertise to turn our songs into the magic that you hear. “Checkmate” was recorded at The Hideout in Las Vegas Nevada.
KM: After the pandemic a few years ago, what was the first live show you guys did? How did it go?
JB: Our first show was opening for “The Iron Maiden’s”. An all female Iron Maiden Tribute Band. We crushed it. They were very sweet girls and we all became instant fans of each other. Great folks!!!
KM: That sounds like it was a cool gig. Who does all the scheduling and promotions for the band? Is the band looking to sign with a label or remain independent?
JB: We have management, we also have an agent, but it would have to be an incredible deal if we were going to sign with a label. I’m not entirely ruling it out, we just haven’t found the right fit yet. So we’re going to remain independent for now. With social media, we have a major fan force that speaks for itself.
KM: For sure! What is on the band’s schedule for the rest of the year?
JB: We play anytime we’re called upon. We’ve been touring with Jackyl, Buckcherry, Seven Year Witch, Steel Panther, as well as headlining our own tours with support from Naked Gypsy Queens. We’re looking forward to many more shows where we get to meet more and more lovely people. Definitely staying busy out here.
KM: Keep rocking it, guys, thanks.
JB: Thank you, Kreig, much appreciated and we certainly will!
Kreig Marks, Publisher / Founder TRR
Kreig Marks is the Founder/Publisher of Tru Rock Revival Magazine.
Rock music has always been his passion, and promoting musicians. In is spare time he is an internationally recognized neuro-fitness trainer/ kinesiologist.